Disappointingly, the 2019-2020 Wisconsin men’s basketball team is not ranked amongst the top 25 teams in the country in the AP preseason poll. While this revelation is certainly a bummer, it’s not all that large of a surprise to those who follow the team closely.
Ethan Happ, despite the fact that he didn’t have the developed talent necessary to go straight to the NBA, was the cornerstone of the team. Last season, Happ scored a grand total of 589 points — 196 points more than the next-highest scorer on the team, D’Mitrik Trice.
This total of 596 points averaged out to 17.3 points per game, nearly six points more than, you guessed it, the second highest scorer Trice. On offense, the absence of Happ will be a massive blow to the Badgers and, while Trice is next in line to take up the mantle of offensive leader, he’ll have to massively up his production to fill that role.
In fact, this is true for the rest of the Badger squad, as no clear scoring leader stepped up as a dominant offensive force during Happ’s final season. With all of these factors, can you blame the AP poll for leaving the Badgers out of the top 25 rankings?
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With just one stand out recruit arriving in Madison for the 2019-2020 season, three star small forward Tyler Wahl, it’s unlikely that an unexpected leader will arise from the ranks of untested competitors.
On paper, there is not much to look up to for this season, the head of the team departed without leaving a clear successor to take his place and no fresh face can bring his level of contribution. Even with this being the case, the Badgers have often been one to surprise their detractors and make them eat their words.
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If the Badgers were to have a down year as predicted by the AP poll, things still look bright in the future. Their 2020 recruiting class includes four star power forward Ben Carlson as well as a highly-ranked three star combo guard Johnny Davis. On top of this, there is a non-zero chance that Wisconsin will land five-star small forward Ziaire Williams.
This is just a small list of the recruits that Wisconsin has landed for their class of 2020. Even if the AP poll is right in believing that the Badgers won’t have an immediate replacement for Happ’s prowess, their future looks bright.